Now normally I would only post something that I have built, but I came across this while looking for something else, and it looked intriguing. And since it could mean some entertainment, it might be worth a look for some. Does it work? While I have my doubts, it is none the less intriguing. The item is most commonly known as “Frank’s Box” or “The Ghostbox”, “Telephone to the dead”, and others. Devised by Frank Sumption, who was a ghost hunter the function is in large part predicated on “spirit presences” some people experience have some electro magnetic phenomena associated with them. I am not a ghost hunter, nor do I plan to go on such an expedition, but anyone who has walked around the “Fench Quarter,” of New Orleans will find many stores and tours that are ghost related or paranormal related, not counting the myriad of Voodoo or Santeria related stores, that will attest to the different “feel” of that area compared to the rest of the city. Plus there is such a storied past that if ghosts exist anywhere, the French Quarter is going to have them. However, this does raise some questions as to effectiveness of such a device because apparently some ghosts do not know that they are ghosts so if they are not aware they are ghosts how are they going to know how to communicate? This does potentially raise some compairisons to Ouija boards, which I am not going to delve into unless someone has a “kitable” electronic version devised.
In addition to the presupposition of electromagnetic influence is the assertion that across the radio spectrum in any given area of an industrialized country that there are myriads of different words being broadcast at any given moment, and that you can assemble a conversation or at least half of it by sampling them in sequence from the RF hash that surrounds us via an electrically tuned radio reciever (at it’s simplest description Think in terms of something vaguely like a Theramin only producing voice samples as the output. ). That is the basic principle of the device. Does it work? I cannot tell you it will nor can I tell you it will not. There seems to be a lot written about it trying to explain it, but none are even close to the short description I give.
The underlying premise of “Frank’s Box” being sampled audio: assembling a conversation from random spoken voices speaking simultaneously in a dinner party for example; is not unique, nor should it be considered impossible because as a kid, my friend and I had a cassette player with a spoken word presentation on it. Just on a lark we started to make commentary recording it onto the tape, and we would play it back. Neither one of us had any idea what was even on the tape nor the subject, but we had essentially compiled a 5 minute 2 way conversation on that tape essentially out of randomness until we got bored with it and set it down. What we had done along the way might be called cheating, but it really wasn’t because we would stop at a point, rewind and then play it forward and be surprised that the points where we stopped had relevent replies to our commentary. Where we would stop it and begin to record some other comments was random, we would play for only a couple of seconds to hear the replies and nothing more; stop the tape and then begin recording the next commentary from that stopping point never listening ahead. While you can do this thoughtfully with some spoken word tapes much like an audio editor may piece together or edit interviews: we were not thinking anything into the activity we were just being bratty little kids tormenting a defenseless audio presentation, and really nothing more than that. The randomness from it came the fact were were not trying to line up edit cuts or anything at all like that but the fact that we were able to generate the conversation in such a random manner, and we never knew where we were stopping that tape in the original recorded presentation mind you because we never listened ahead of where we stopped for reply.
And while this is just an annecdote, it is adequate to support the notion that you at least in theory are able to sample from the spoken and sung words in the airwaves at any instant in most any area of at least the US and much of populous Canada, Europe and industrialized Oz, NZ, Asia and South and Central America that you can create coherent speech patterns and sentences from the samplings and thus form complete coherent sentences. It is after all ir is remotely similar in concept to a “Book Cipher”, (which if you can locate a book that Google has not scanned into it’s library, you can create a converstation suitable for letterwriting and replies that Google, the NSA or other agencies would be unable to break unless they too had that specific book- but mix things up if you do so as it was rigid Nazi protocol that led to the cracking of the Enigma encoding device.). But it does require the recipient to have that same title and edition of book to work. While it is a slight stretch for compairison- it is not that much of a stretch because in that compairison, it is a demonstration that you are in essence creating a conversation from fragments of other conversations (written sampling as opposed to audio sampling). While difficult for some to wrap their head around the idea, for others it should be a simply an- “Oh!” or “A-HA!” moment, where seemingly disparate concepts congeal into an understanding of what the concept is. The device on a conceptual level is rather simple.
On the assembly level as Frank designed things, electrically it is probably more difficult than it needs to be.
Now some of the discussions about the device are here:
and for balance the skeptics are here too:
Me? I am neutral. I will neither confirm nor deny if the device works, though I do have my doubts. But it does make for a potential halloween party concept. Which is why I bring it up. With this item you have a “Seance in a box”- just add batteries. (Imagine the infomercial ads on TV now….) On the other hand- it may have some other uses such as lightning detection or locating stray transients, RF noise sources, etc. I will not say that it will have no uses, I just have my doubts about it working in the manner Frank suggests. But on the other hand, it might work.
Now, if you want to build an electric charge detector/ lightning detector or static charge detector that does work, this item which I did build a number of years ago, does work, and when I had hooked it to a longwire antenna the static charge blew out the JFET after a while, but it did work at least for detecting accumulating charge on the antenna and other things. If you are a ghost hunter and want something incredibly simple for detecting electrical potentials- this is the item There are a lot of things to look at on AMASCI.com too but this one as simple as it is is actually buried under a great many other items and would be difficult to find unless you knew where tolook and what to look for. But build one of these and see what you find with it. “Amaze your friends.” This is also a good project for kids who need a science fair idea.
The tangential blog.
The passive solar blog- outgrowth from some projects of mine.